Stefano Pioli, the manager of AC Milan, has opted for no real surprises in his first line-up of the 2020-21 Serie A season with defensive trio Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio, and Andrea Conti all injured, while Rafael Leao returned to Milanello on Monday having been in quarantine.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) September 21, 2020
Ante Rebic did return from suspension though, and he slotted straight back into the XI on the left, with Samu Castillejo preferred to Alexis Saelemaekers on the right.
Bologna started better – pressing Milan well high up the pitch, and Ismael Bennacer was almost punished for a giveaway on the edge of his own box as a Soriano shot was blocked wide by Kessie following a ricochet.
AC Milan started to gain the momentum and had an early handball shout turned down as Calhanoglu attempted to flick the ball back past the defender.
this pic is cold . . pic.twitter.com/ay4vvFaK0E
— Karim (@Futball_Karim) September 21, 2020
In the 12th-minute Milan generated their first clear chance. Some lovely combination play down the right side involving Calabria and Ibrahimovic saw the latter find some space to shoot from inside the area, but his effort was deflected narrowly wide of the far left post.
The Rossoneri cut through Bologna through the left – Theo Hernandez finding Calhanoglu with a pass infield, though Hakan has done better than dragging his effort wide from the edge of the box in space.
Benjamin Button pic.twitter.com/RtYq2TH0Wr
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) September 21, 2020
Gianluigi Donnarumma’s came into action in the 22nd-minute as Rossoblu’s first real counter of the game ended with Dominguez firing a shot towards the top right corner that Donnarumma pulled in.
Matteo Gabbia had a big chance to open the deadlock a few minutes later as a free-kick swung in from the byline was hit back into the box by Rebic, but the young Italian spun and skewed his effort wide first time from around six yards out.
??? ?-?-?-?-?-?-? ??? pic.twitter.com/fTiOJjNei4
— AC Milan BR (@acmilanbr) September 21, 2020
The chances kept coming, and Franck Kessie became the latest player to shank a shot wide from just outside the box when he could have taken a touch.
Just seconds later, the 1,000 spectators allowed inside the stadium, and those watching at home were stunned as Ismael Bennacer missed a sitter. Ibrahimovic did well to hold the ball up inside the area and the Swede fired a low cross into the box that Skorupski parried straight to Bennacer, who somehow managed to fire the ball over and wide with the goal gaping.
Milan gave the impression of scoring any moments, but the lack of neat-finishing undermined their efforts.
GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL! IBRA! pic.twitter.com/8lTVje9ieW
— MilanGifs (@MilanGifs) September 21, 2020
The Lion from Sweden – Ibrahimovic has had enough and yet again, decided to take matters in his hand.
The breakthrough came just before half time.
An impressive spell of controlled possession inside the Bologna third ended with Theo Hernandez whipping in an inch-perfect cross to the far post, where none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic was waiting to tower above his man and headed inside the post.
Who else, but, Zlatan Ibrahimovic!
Indeed, and he was not finished yet!
Pioli opted to make a change at half time, with the struggling Castillejo making way for Alexis Saelemaekers, and he should have had an assist within two minutes – dropped a ball back to Ibrahimovic on the break but Ibra saw his effort turned away for a corner when he should have done better.
Milan were quickly handed a chance for their second, though, when VAR spotted Orsolini’s foul on Bennacer, which had been given as a free-kick, actually took place in the box and Ibrahimovic slammed the penalty high into the right corner.
GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL! IBRA! pic.twitter.com/qwwHndgR6a
— MilanGifs (@MilanGifs) September 21, 2020
A perfect hat-trick looked a certainty when Ibrahimovic rounded Skorupski, but the Swede sliced his effort over.
But the two-goal of Ibra was enough to bag full points despite being sloppy in the quarter of the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored a Serie A brace at the San Siro for the first time in 3065 days.
In opening games of a season within the top five European leagues, Ibrahimovic has now been involved in 16 goals in as many appearances, scoring 12 times and providing four assists. He has now scored in 23 top-flight seasons. He’s scored a league goal in four separate decades.
Ibra just keeps getting better and better.
Perhaps, the best is yet to come!